VA Death Pension Update

Posted: August 27, 2011 in Uncategorized
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The widow of a Vietnam veteran has been forced out of one home and she could get kicked out again. She said it's because the Veteran's Administration is taking so long to pay the benefits owed to her following her husband's death. Now, she is out of time and money to pay the rent. "In June, it was go ahead and feed Riley, or I wasn't going to get my meds." Judy Julius opted to feed her service dog, Riley. She said her late husband, Charlie, a Vietnam veteran, would be disgusted to know how she's being treated. "Why so long? I mean this is a man who died believing I was going to be taken care of," Julius said.
Charlie passed in September but her first check didn't arrive until June. She said she didn't have income the entire time. Julius said she went to local veteran support offices, wrote politicians and called the Department of Veterans Affairs, trying to get her survivor pension. "I said 'ma'am, I'm due to be evicted if you do not get me some kind of income.'" Now that she's finally received two checks, her days are consumed by again calling the Veteran's Administration, to get the more than $5,000 in back pay from the previous nine months. "It just seemed like every time I called, sign this, do this, do that, I would do what I was asked, but I wasn't getting anywhere." Julius said other widows are in the same position. "Nobody is willing to speak up because they're afraid they'll lose what they have," she said. She said she wants to be a voice for them, hoping others don't have the turmoil of losing everything else on top of losing their spouse. "Dogonnit, I'm sick and tired of the VA mistreating women like myself who are so dependent upon that."
Fox59 set out to make sure she gets the money she is owed. It even took them a week to get anyone to call them back. The help came from the Indianapolis Regional VA Office. They released the following statement: "We believe the delay in Ms. Julius receiving her benefits was due to an inaccurate address and a change in bank information. Our recommendation to Veterans and their dependents is let us know as early as possible when they have a new mailing address and if their bank information changes (i.e., opening or closing accounts, using savings account instead of checking account, etc.) in order to prevent delays in receiving their benefits." Judy was told the check is in the mail, but she said she'll believe it when she sees it.
Widows of veterans are eligible for pension if the following criteria can be met:
– the deceased veteran was discharged from service under other than dishonorable conditions, AND
– the deceased veteran served at least 90 days of active military service 1 day of which was during a war time period. If he or she entered active duty after September 7, 1980, generally he or she must have served at least 24 months or the full period for which called or ordered to active duty. (There are exceptions to this rule.) AND
– you are the surviving spouse or unmarried child of the deceased veteran, AND
– your countable income is below a yearly limit set by law (The yearly limit on income is set by Congress).
If you are unsure if you meet all criteria, you are encouraged to go ahead and file an application, particularly if your countable income appears to be near the maximum. VA will determine if you are eligible and notify you. If you do not initially qualify, you may reapply if you have un-reimbursed medical expenses during the twelve month period after VA receives your claim that bring your countable income below the yearly income limit. These are expense you have paid for medical services or products for which you will not be reimbursed by Medicare or private medical insurance. The following are examples of the types of exclusions or deductibles to countable income:
– Final expenses of the veteran's last illness and burial paid by the surviving spouse or eligible children.
– Public assistance such as Supplemental Security Income is not considered income.
– Many other specific sources of income are not considered income, however all income should be reported. VA will exclude any income that the law allows.
– A portion of un-reimbursed medical expenses paid by the claimant after VA receives your pension claim may be deducted.
– Certain other expenses, such as a surviving spouse's education expenses, and in some cases, a portion of the educational expenses of a child over 18 are deductible.
[Source: Indianapolis Fox59 News Jenny Anchondo article 14 Jul 2011 ++]

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